The journey of losing weight is different for everyone, but did you know gender plays a roll in these differences? Most women experience monthly hormone fluctuations that affect them emotionally and physically. This adds another layer for women to deal with in order to succeed in their weight loss goals.
Does PMS Actually Exist?
PMS is not a mystical phenomena used by women who need to make excuses! It is actually a diagnosable cluster of symptoms of both psychological and physiological changes that 40% of women experience. PMS and monthly hormonal changes are a real deal. Here are some signs and symptoms of these changes:
- Cravings for Sweet and Salty Foods
- Mood Swings
- Social Withdrawal
- Sleep Disturbances
- Abdominal Bloating
- Swollen Hands and Feet
How Does PMS Affect Weight, Mood and Cravings?
At the start of your menstrual cycle, the pituitary gland releases hormones to help ovulation. During this period, an egg matures and it is released from your ovaries, leaving behind a group of cells called corpus luteum. The job of the corpus luteum is to produce estrogen and progesterone. This will build up a blood lining that is nutrient rich and helps the egg thrive. This lining is your menstrual cycle. Here is how this cycle may cause PMS:
- The Progesterone Surges: The spike in progesterone levels right before your period is a possible reason for bloating, tenderness and swelling. Progesterone encourages the body to release more aldosterone. Aldosterone is a hormone that tells your kidney to retain sodium and water. This explains the puffy appearance during your monthly visitor. It is normal for a woman to gain a few pounds in water weight. The role of progesterone is to prepare the body for pregnancy. Generally this means that it helps you gain weight in the form of water or otherwise.
- The Estrogen Declines: Your estrogen level peaks right before ovulation but then drops and plateaus. In the week prior to your period, the dip in your estrogen level is the potential explanation for PMS symptoms like depression, cravings for sweet and salty foods, irritability, anxiety, nausea, etc… As estrogen levels drop lower, so does the activity of the serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter that affects your appetite and mood. Lower serotonin activity can lead to negative emotions which in turn can make us crave sweet and salty junk foods.
PMS is the unwanted side affect of the natural changes in progesterone and estrogen. Why women experience symptoms of PMS and to what degree are not completely understood but hormonal fluctuations have a strong hand in it. Just remember that PMS signs and symptoms may have non-hormonal roots. It is best to speak to a health adviser since each person has an individual case.
- Change up your Caffeine Intake – Try not to consume as much caffeine as usual (coffee and energy drinks). In a survey of 841 women, PMS symptoms worsened when consuming more caffeine beverages daily. Keep in mind that this is only one survey. One the other hand, some of us actually use caffeine beverages to combat some of the PMS symptoms like fatigue and bloating (caffeine acts as a mind diuretic). There is no solid answer. It is better to figure out what makes your body respond at it’s best.
- Exercise – During that time of the month it is easy to put a halt on the exercise routine when fatigue and cramps come into play. However, if you engage in mild, regular exercise it can help improve our mood and energy level. If you are in too much pain, try a seated mediation focused on relaxing the muscles and regular breathing. Do this for 15-20 minutes twice a day over the course of a few months. Research has shown that is can improve PMS symptoms by up to 58%.
- Snack on Nutrient-Rich Foods – When it comes to cravings, try not to grab for the chocolates! The sweetness is very comforting and it causes the brain to release feel good dopamine and serotonin. Instead, try to reach for a nutrient rich snack that provides calcium, vitamin D etc…. Try some granola, yogurt, cheese and crackers or unsalted nuts.
- Ignore Negative Comments – If you are self-conscious about your weight, PMSing can negatively affect your perception. You may interpret comments and negative judgments. Ignore that dark inner voice and try not to be so hard on yourself.
- Log your Weight Weekly – Even if you do have the signs and symptoms of PMS, your weight may fluctuate as a result of monthly hormone changes. If you gain 5-10 pounds of period weight each month, regular weight tracking makes it easier for you to see fluctuation and progress. No matter what the scale says, do not lose motivation!!!
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